Politics

Cruz Ally Targets Paul Ryan’s Primary Challenger

Screen shot of Paul Nehlen campaign ad

Scott Greer Contributor

A prominent Ted Cruz ally and political operative has set his sights on a new cause: attacking House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Republican primary challenger Paul Nehlen.

Drew Ryun, a senior official with the pro-Cruz Keep the Promise super PAC, is head of Media Trackers, a self-described “media accountability” non-profit research group. The group has published numerous critical pieces on Nehlen since the businessman announced he was running against Speaker Ryan for his congressional seat in Wisconsin.

In May, Media Trackers posted an article entitled: “Nehlen Becoming Democrats Favorite ‘Republican‘”. The organization attacked Nehlen for appearing on left-leaning radio shows and earning the support of people who claim to be Democrats.

More recent articles have attacked Nehlen for managing a Chinese factory that exported its products to the U.S. and for amassing a large amount of out-of-state donations.

Ryan’s challenger sees himself as a grassroots conservative challenger to the current House Speaker in a mold similar to how Sen. Ted Cruz billed his Senate and presidential campaigns as a rebuke against the party establishment. Cruz has previously fundraised for Drew Ryun’s other venture, the Madison Project, in its 2014 efforts to defeat Republican establishment figures like Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Ryun’s work against Nehlen isn’t the first instance of a Cruz ally working against an anti-establishment candidate this election cycle.

Last week, reports surfaced of Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe working to unseat House Freedom Caucus member and Cruz backer Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp. The Texas senator has endorsed Huelksamp in his primary race and is apparently at odds with Roe over the matter, Politico reports.

Paul Ryan’s campaign appears to be taking Nehlen seriously. For instance, his campaign website recently re-published a column by a Wisconsin talk radio host that claims Nehlen is an invention of “scamPACs.”

UPDATE: After publication of the article, Media Trackers Communications Director Brian Sikma provided a statement to The Daily Caller on why the group is criticizing Nehlen.

“The decision by Media Trackers to write about Paul Nehlen was made in Wisconsin as a result of initial research that we conducted on Mr. Nehlen’s background,” Sikma’s told TheDC via an email statement. “Our editorial decisions are made without respect to presidential politics. Several Media Trackers staff, including myself, were supportive of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in our free time but once that happens the organization is, of course, unable to write about that race and we successfully maintained that standard.”

Follow Scott on Twitter